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Sydney Coyne is serving chili at the chancellor's chili fest

Coyne an example of importance of student involvement

By Blake Sebring

August 23, 2023

Now that she’s a senior, Sydney Coyne has a clearer perspective on the anxiety she faced during her initial weeks as a freshman in 2020.

“It was after my first few tests,” the anthropology and history major said. “It wasn’t quite like high school, obviously, and I was panicking even before I got the scores. I was spending all that time in my dorm just freaking out about my classes. I’d come home and be super anxious about how my classes were going, and I didn’t have anything to be a distraction from that or take away from that.”

Then she started to wonder if college was the right option for her.

But one of the things she noticed walking around the Purdue University Fort Wayne campus was the annual Campus Connections Fair on the Science Mall, which student organizations use to introduce themselves to members of the university community. Coyne talked with a representative of the Student Activities Board, and a couple of weeks later attended the organization’s call-out meeting.

“It was the first time at college that I felt like I was part of something, and I was doing something that was not stressing me out,” Coyne said. “I just started to go to more meetings and events. If I didn’t have SAB, I don’t know that I would have made it because I would have just spent all that time in my dorm being anxious and waiting for a bad test score to come in.”

Despite her early fears, Coyne’s test scores actually turned out pretty good, though the entire process was not like something she was prepared for. She had to get up to speed, and that included trying new things and making new friends.

Today, Coyne is a Top 50 designee and the SAB’s signature events chair, meaning she’s in charge of organizing SAB’s part of Homecoming, the Spring Fling, and this week’s Campus Kickoff events. It’s a post she’s held the last two years and loves because she gets to make connections and introduce other students to new options.

“I tell them my story, that going to class, going to work, and just going back home is not a fun time,” Coyne said. “Getting involved made my college career. It’s the reason why I tell everyone to stick through the first couple of weeks because I’m here now, and I’m feeling the most upbeat I’ve ever felt before going to these events and doing these things.”

She’s also one of the Office of Admissions’ student success coaches, helping guide new students. Coyne takes advantage of these interactions to invite them along to events and encourages those who are going already to come up and say “Hi.”

It’s not always easy to get students involved, she said, but worth the effort.

“I think the biggest part is making sure people know what is going on, and to make sure that there are events that appeal to a variety of people,” Coyne said.

That includes alerting students who live off campus they can attend activities held in Student Housing on the Waterfield Campus. That includes Wednesday’s second annual foam party.

“A lot of people don’t understand how important it is to get involved and find a support system,” Coyne said. “I didn’t realize how important it is until after the fact because I was very introverted in high school. Then I got involved, and I realized how much a better leader it made me—all the professional development going on that I just wasn’t seeing at the time.

“Now I don’t recognize who I was coming into college. A couple of seemingly insignificant things I did, like going to the connections fair; I can’t even imagine where I’d be right now without that. For the people who are looking for things to do and who want to get involved, it’s so easy to just walk outside and find something to do.”